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Monday, December 21, 2009

Send out a clear message on PPSMI

NST 2009/12/18

IN place of the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, better known as PPSMI, the Education Ministry has introduced the policy "Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening the Command of English" (also known by the Malay acronym MBMMBI).

There are obvious flaws in this policy which the education minister should address.

Firstly, every linguist will tell us that the way to mastering any language is through exposure, exposure and exposure.

PPSMI exposes students to English and allows them to practise the language by application. Eliminating PPSMI and introducing MBMMBI will reduce English exposure time from 41 per cent to 21 per cent of total learning time. Thus, MBMMBI will further weaken the command of English of our future generation.

Evidence of this is obvious. Since Bahasa Malaysia replaced English as the medium of instruction in schools in the early 1970s, the standard of English of Malaysian students has dropped drastically to the extent that even local university graduates are rendered unemployable due to their poor English communication skills.

Secondly, MBMMBI will eliminate scientific English and replace it with "scientific" Malay words, the majority of which are actually nothing more than "Malay-fied" English terms such as "oksida", "fotosintesis", "silinder", etc Trouble comes when these terms are not "Malay-fied", for example, "segitiga sama kaki" which means isosceles triangle. It is a common joke by professors at foreign universities to brand our students as coming from the "Land of the Same Leg Triangle".

Many Malaysian students are experiencing difficulties coping with tertiary studies, even in local universities and UiTM where English is the medium of instruction. It doesn't help when one hears that lecturers are forced to pass low-performing students or face dismissal.

As such, MBMMBI will produce incompetent engineers, doctors and technicians.

Thirdly, it intends to introduce mathematical and scientific terms in English lessons to make up for the loss of PPSMI. According to the education minister, Science and Mathematics teachers have failed under PPSMI. Therefore, wouldn't it be illogical to expect our non-technical English teachers to explain mathematical and scientific terms and jargon? Worse, it would be out of context.

Fourthly, under MBMMBI, Bahasa Malaysia would be the only main language spoken and mastered and English would be relegated to a distant second place. As it is, nationalists have labelled English as a colonialist language and criticised those who want to learn in English as traitors. Unfortunately, there will be some hapless folk who will be influenced and misguided by these bigoted "patriots".

Many Malaysians have already moved their children to international schools and more have shifted abroad. We, the common people, would have to find creative ways to escape this political charade, to escape from the "Land of the Same Leg Triangle".

Incidentally, the Hong Kong government has just announced that half of its secondary schools will switch its medium of instruction from Mandarin to English, including specifically, the teaching and learning of Science.

We, the parents, must take matters into our own hands. Insist on a resolution to maintain PPSMI in your children's schools at the next annual general meeting of your parent-teacher association.

Come out loud to send the message to our education minister.

for Parent Action Group for Education (Page)


Education minister not upholding 1Malaysia

The Edge Financial Daily

Monday, 14 December 2009 00:06

Our education minister’s recent comment on his decision to abolish PPSMI (the teaching of Maths and Science in English) for all schools as being final and not to be questioned is thumbing down on our prime minister’s slogan of 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now.

The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) upholds that parents know what is best for their children and political considerations should not rule over educational needs.

PAGE findings had shown that the majority of urban parents and a significant number of rural parents want their children to study Science and Maths in English.

If our education minister doubts our statement then PAGE seeks our minister to call upon all national schools to vote on a resolution on this issue at the next annual general meeting (AGM) of their Parent-Teachers Associations (PTAs).

Our education minister should not have called upon his party members to hijack over and dominate the school PTAs “to suppress the voice of parents” and neither should he nor his subordinates threaten school administrators who differ with him on this issue. Please be reminded that many principals as well as science and maths teachers were not consulted to have their say on this matter.

We parents who had also been ignored in his final decision-making process will abide by the outcome of this democratic and transparent process, and our minister can rest be assured knowing that what he does will be in all sincerity, the true wishes of the people. Long live 1Malaysia.

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
PAGE chairperson


Monday, December 7, 2009

Support for PAGE

Lim Kit Siang writes:

Government should respect PAGE and empower parents to decide whether to use English to teach/learn maths and science in primary/secondary schools.

During the 2010 budget debate on the Education Ministry late this evening, I called on the government to respect the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) and to empower parents to decide whether they want their children to use English to teach/learn mathematics and science in primary and secondary schools.

I reiterated the DAP stand that maths and science should be taught in the mother tongue or home language in Std. One and spoke on the decline in mastery of the English language by Malaysian students, all the way to the university level.

The government had been talking about the importance of ensuring fluency and proficiency of English students, especially university students, but little had been achieved going by the employers’ complaints about the poor English command of graduates.

This has undermined Malaysia’s international competitiveness as English is an international language and a language of competition in the world arena.

As many parents in the country have expressed their wish that English be used as the medium for mathematics and science, I called on the Education Ministry to declare its stand on PAGE’s call to allow parents the choice of deciding whether their students in schools should use English to be taught mathematics and science.

I also called on the Education Ministry not only to allow Chinese and Tamil languages to used chosen as SPM subjects in a 10 + 2 formula, but to ensure that both subjects are recognized officially for scholarship and other official purposes.

What PAGE is asking for is very resonable: that those students, teachers and schools that benefited from the policy maintain status quo. There will be no need for re-learning of students, re-training of teachers, re-writing and re-printing of text books, scientific and mathematical knowledge continues to be gained speedily further enhancing students' potential yet saving hard-earned taxpayers' money that can be put to better use elsewhere.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Overhaul economy", Second Finance Minister

'Malaysia must overhaul economy'

By Rupa Damodaran

Published: Business Times 2009/12/02

Malaysia must overhaul its economy urgently to keep up with the changing world and regain the pole position it once held in the region, a minister said.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said the country needs to diversify its trading partners and overcome competition from other emerging economies in exports.

"We must also consider the gradual dismantling of our open-ended protection of specific sectors and industries, which has introduced a climate of complacency and artificial levels of supply," he said at the opening of the two-day National Economic Outlook Conference 2010-2011 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The event was organised by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research.

Ahmad Husni said Malaysia had lost its competitive edge in many sectors of the economy, with private investments now half of what they were before the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis.

"Malaysia is trapped in a low-value-added, low-wage and low-productivity structure," he said.

Among its peers like China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, Malaysia's economic growth over the past three years was the second lowest.

"Our economy has been stagnating in the last decade. Our private investment has been steadily in decline," Ahmad Husni said.

He added that the country's manufacturing sector was suffering from a lack of investment, while the services sector was underdeveloped.

Between 2000 and 2007, Malaysia's investment per value-added in percentage nominal terms in manufacturing dropped from 30.6 per cent to 21.7 per cent. In the case of services, the decline was from 26.8 per cent to 22.1 per cent.

Ahmad Husni believes that the 1Malaysia concept can "re-catalyse" the private sector's role in the economy and enhance the level of competitiveness.

He also said that the government was confident of achieving 5 per cent economic growth next year and had identified several growth drivers. It would seek to enhance capacity through domestic demand.

PAGE: The Finance Ministry has painted a picture of doom and gloom. For the boost that it requires, PPSMI will play a major role in contributing towards preparing the future generation for the global and financial challenges ahead.


Under fire over RM10b FDI loss

NST 2009/12/02

CHIEF Minister Lim Guan Eng was yesterday taken to task for turning down RM10 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) into Penang just because he could not guarantee the prospective investors 1,000 engineers.

Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya (BN-Teluk Bahang) told the state assembly that he was shocked to read about the matter and saddened that such a huge investment opportunity had been lost.

"It is implausible that we do not have or cannot find the engineers."This (decision to turn down the investors) was a very big mistake that the state government has committed.

"Dr Hilmi, who is a former Penang deputy chief minister, said the people in the state had lost out on a big investment just because Lim was not far-sighted enough.

He also said developers had been spooked by the policies introduced by Lim's administration.

He cited an example where the state approved development plans but inserted a specific condition that it could be cancelled at any time by the chief minister.

At this point, Lim stood up to clarify that this was no longer the case and the state government no longer imposed such a condition.

Lim said there was no reason for Hilmi to raise the matter as it was no longer an issue.

However, Hilmi responded that it was exactly such inconsistent policies which caused investors to worry.

"You may no longer impose such conditions but the damage is already done.

" Hilmi also touched on how the state government was allegedly delaying projects submitted by those deemed to be associated with the Barisan Nasional.

"I have heard grouses about this... I understand Perda (Penang Regional Development Authority) had submitted plans some two years ago but they have yet to be approved."

PAGE: The politicians have missed the point. The country has failed to produce the engineers required. For this reason, schools should be given the option to choose PPSMI if it feels that teachers are capable, students are able and parents are agreeable, so that competent engineers are ready for employment when such an opportunity arises again.


Be bold, govt officers told

NST 2009/12/02

By Jaswinder Kaur

KOTA KINABALU: Government officers given the task of making decisions must not allow politicians to intimidate them, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said yesterday.

Instead, he added, they should focus on carrying out their duties based on regulations and the law.

Masidi said if civil servants did not let politicians interfere, they would be able to make the right decision, especially when deliberating on development at sensitive areas, such as hillslopes and the sea.

"Politicians will always sign letters seeking support by saying sila bantu (please assist) but government officers must not take this as an approval.

"Use your wisdom and follow the law. I was once a civil servant myself, and was placed in cold storage for going against a politician.

"I was brave enough to go against the directive because I knew I was right."

Masidi said this at a seminar on highlands development for state and Federal department heads at the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) campus in Sepanggar, here yesterday.

He said the popular decision might not always be correct, but that the right decision would always be right.

"I bring this up in the context of this seminar because we are talking about highlands and development on slopes. There is always a dilemma in this, with politicians coming into the picture.

"We do not need to destroy the environment to achieve development or to succeed in life. Look at alternatives that will not harm nature, or else we will face bigger problems in future.

"Later, speaking to reporters, Masidi said unregulated hillslope development in Kundasang, which is a popular tourism spot, was a thing of the past now that the area was finally under the Ranau district council's rating zone.

He said the district council had been instructed to meet operators to find ways to improve safety standards of lodges and other structures already there.

"The buildings exist, so this is what the council has to do. We cannot afford an accident that may lead to loss of lives, and the tourism industry to fall."

PAGE: This is the stand all politicians should take for all their ministries, in particular, the Education Ministry, where it involves many defenceless children and parents who would rather not say or do anything for fear that their children/school will be victimised. The Ministry of Education is not vindicative.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

English essential for business and trade

Star Thursday November 26, 2009

DEPUTY Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi’s comment that the private sector should use Bahasa Malaysia and not English is irrational, retrogressive and does not stand to reason.

The Deputy Minister’s views have not gone down well as indicated by the strong reaction and disagreement to his suggestion from various quarters.

At a time when our prime minister frequently emphasises the need for Malaysia to compete globally, to attract foreign investment and to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation, the call to the private sector to use Bahasa Malaysia and not English does not make business sense and defeats the PM’s call.

The private sector in Malaysia, I am certain, is patriotic and respects Bahasa Malaysia as our national and official language.

However, they realise that for them to do business and trade with the international community, using English is a necessity as they must be able to communicate in a language acceptable to all.

Every level-headed Malaysian who subscribes to reason and logic will unanimously agree that teaching, learning and using the English language must never be made into an issue when it is done in the interests of our future generation and for the sake of our nation’s progress and its future well-being.

We have to be pragmatic and progressive in this era of globalisation. It is essential for the Government to adopt a practical and open-minded approach towards English, which can contribute to Malaysia’s progress, while remaining firm and steadfast in ensuring that Bahasa Malaysia is the country’s official and national language.

We learn and use English as it is an international language for science and technology, business and commerce.

Malaysians should strive to be bilingual or even trilingual, now that most Malaysians, particularly the younger generation, have mastered Bahasa Malaysia.

Malaysians may lose out in the field of information and technology in the new millennium if they are not proficient in English.

The ability to learn and use English or any other language should be seen as a progressive move to improve our knowledge and expertise.

The fear of the English language, which some still regard as a legacy of British colonialism, is clearly misplaced and needs to be rectified.

To overcome this, more needs to be done to convince parents and students, particularly those in the rural areas, about the importance of learning English as a tool for science, technology, business and commerce as well as progress and modernisation.

Kuala Lumpur.


UPSR: Better showing in Math, Science and Tamil

Friday November 20, 2009

Jump in A's in three subjects


PUTRAJAYA: There has been a jump in the number of A’s obtained in Mathematics, Science and Tamil (Comprehension) in the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR) 2009 results.

Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said Mathematics (in both national and vernacular schools) had the highest increase in the number of A’s obtained at 4.2% followed by Tamil (Comprehension) at 3.6% and Science at 2.2% out of the 12 subjects offered in the UPSR.

“There was no significant drop in the other subjects,” he said when announcing the analysis of the UPSR results at the ministry yesterday.

Alimuddin said more Year Six pupils obtained A’s in all their subjects in this year’s UPSR compared to the previous year.

A total of 48,171 obtained all A’s this year compared to 46,641 in 2008.

He said the number of pupils who obtained good results (with a minimum C) also increased from 46,641 in 2008 to 48,171 this year while there was a decline in those who obtained all E’s from 3,363 in 2008 to 3,266 this year.

He said the emphasis for the UPSR 2009 results was on the overall achievements of pupils and their subject performance.

“The ministry is not naming any best schools as we want to avoid an over-emphasis on examination results,” he said.

The Average National Grade (GPN), he added, was used to measure the overall achievements of pupils while the Average Subject Grade (GPMP) gauged subject performance.

On the achievements of pupils in urban and rural areas, Alimuddin said there was an overall improvement.

He said a total of 31, 360 obtained all A’s in urban areas compared to 16,380 in rural areas.
“The comparison with this year’s and last year’s results show that the gap is narrowing,” he added.

Alimuddin said of the 1,086 pupils with special needs who sat for the UPSR, 13 scored all A’s and 177 obtained a minimum of C’s.

Giving an update on the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination which started on Wednesday, Alimuddin said SMT Kerian in Bagan Serai, Perak, has been used to house 131 students from SMK Alor Bongsu and three from SMK Alang Iskandar who were affected by the floods. “These students will remain there until the SPM finishes,” he said.

Nine students, he added were sitting for the SPM in hospitals — four suspected A(H1N1) cases in Shah Alam, Sarikei, Manir and Marang while another five were involved in separate car accidents in Malacca.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Study shows support for use of English

Star 2009/12/02

IN a just concluded survey on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) involving 48 schools (22 urban and 26 rural involving 354 students aged 10 to 15 in Selangor and Pahang), it was found that more than 87 per cent of students in urban and rural schools preferred the subjects to be taught in English despite many of them being weak in the language.

Another nine per cent did not mind whether these subjects were taught in English or Malay.

So, a majority of our students are still willing to face the challenge and they support the use of English to learn Science and Mathematics.

Among the reasons most of them gave were: "English is an important language", "I watch English programmes on TV and almost everything I like on the Internet is in English" and "My parents always encourage me to study the subjects in English".

The majority of the rural children confessed that they were weak in English. However, they would prefer to learn Science and Mathematics in English.The majority of the weak students did not blame their teachers for the problems they had in mastering these two subjects.

A significant number of students felt that since there is a Bahasa Malaysia translation to all the questions in public exams and lessons, it was all right for them to be taught in English.

Some of the comments from the weak and good students:"At least I am exposed to English terms that we often see on the Internet." "Never mind, if I cannot understand English, I'll read the Malay translation.""I'll always carry an electronic dictionary with me to help with my study."
Almost all students were aware that their English had improved through learning Science and Mathematics in English.The majority never felt that they would lose their racial identity when these subjects were taught in English. Most students in the better classes felt that teachers were not serious enough when using English to teach the subjects.

Students from some urban and rural schools said their teachers were not competent in the language.

Teachers spoke broken English and often reverted to Bahasa Malaysia when they were lost for words.Then again, 64 per cent of the teachers involved in teaching the subjects in English reported that PPSMI was ineffective. It was an uphill task, according to them. Some said it could be the language factor and some said that students were weak in Science and Mathematics. Only a minority of them admitted that they were not competent to handle the subjects in the language.

The conclusions to these findings are interesting. Students still aspire to learn Science and Mathematics in English despite "external forces" objecting to this policy.

Parents are positive about the use of English to teach Science and Mathematics.

A majority of our teachers are not competent to handle the subjects in English.

Students did not feel that they would neglect their mother tongue when Science and Mathematics were taught in English.The majority felt inferior when they were not good in English. They felt they would lose out to others later on in life if they did not learn Science and Maths in English.

DR M.A. NAIR Kuantan


PPSMI: English now a mother tongue


E.L.Melbourne, Australia

I REFER to the letter "PPSMI waivers must not be granted" (NST, Nov 26) from Sa'ari Hasan of Ayer Keroh, Malacca. The writer seems to assume that all Malaysian children are brought up in households where only Malay, Chinese or Tamil is spoken. This is a narrow viewpoint.

It cannot be denied that many Malaysian children nowadays are born into English-speaking households and are exposed to television and the Internet where most of the information, cartoons, movies, etc are in English.

They also have access to major bookstore chains offering a myriad books and magazines in English.

To these children, English is not a foreign language. They have the right to learn in the language they are most comfortable with, that is English.

Parents, too, must be given the right to decide what language they want their children to be educated in, and they have voiced this out in parent-teacher association meetings and in the press. We have seen that in some schools, an overwhelming majority of parents want the teaching of Mathematics and Science to remain in English.

How is it that in the 1950s and 1960s, our parents who studied in English-medium-schools had no problem coping with their studies? The entire syllabus then was in English. Moreover, it was a lot less likely that the older generation came from English-speaking households. I have aunts and uncles who could not speak a word of English when they entered Standard One. Yet now, they are all graduates and communicate in perfect English.

It is obvious that the command of English and overall quality of the older generation, who had the privilege of studying in English-medium schools, are much better than among the thousands of graduates being churned out of local universities today.

Having worked in the human resources division of a large company before, I have gone through thousands of job applications. Most of the applications from local graduates ended up in the rubbish bin because their English was appalling.

Bahasa Malaysia nationalists need to rid themselves of the attitude that English is a legacy of British colonialism. Communicating in English is not comparable to donning "bowler hats, tailcoats and brollies", as the writer puts it. No one is belittling Bahasa Malaysia.

Please be sensible and do not let blind nationalism impede the country's progress in this era of globalisation.

The education minister had said more emphasis would be placed on the teaching of English in schools. But let's not kid ourselves. Will this really improve students' command of English? I seriously doubt it.

As it is, one does not even have to pass English to get a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certificate.

Therefore, do you think teachers will take it seriously, let alone students? More likely the students will fool around during the English periods or teachers will tell them to "buat kerja sendiri" (do your own work).

Rural students already have such limited exposure to English as they do not have as much access to things like computers or satellite television. Abolishing PPSMI means that they will have even fewer opportunities to improve their English language skills.

They will definitely end up being "locked up in a world of suffocating ignorance".


PPSMI: So many people cannot be wrong



AFTER reading what members of parent-teacher associations had to say about doingaway with PPSMI (“Can we have Science and Maths in English in some schools?”— N S T, Nov 8), I’m compelled to write this letter to articulate the feelings of my family, friends, relatives andmyself regarding the decision to revert to teaching Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia from as early as next year.

Whether we like it or not, English is the lingua franca of the world. Most parents want their children to master the language so that they will be better equipped to find a job or to pursue tertiary education.

For these reasons, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had the courage to correct shortcomings in our educational policy by reintroducing English as the medium of instruction in Science and Mathematics.

Realising that a generation of Malaysians had paid for the flaws in our education policy, Dr Mahathir tried to break the unfortunate chain of inadequacy in English among our students and graduates. Most Malaysians look upon this change of policy as his best departing gift to our nation.

When it was announced this year that the government had decided to revert to teaching Science and Maths in Bahasa Malaysia, our hearts sank.

If 95 per cent of the population in SK Perumahan Tampoi are Malays and the parents have no problem with their children learning Science and Maths in English, as revealed by Mohd Hambali Munadi, the chairman of a PTA in Johor in the same letter, one wonders why we would want to revert to teaching Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia.

I pray that the government will allow the two subjects to be taught in English in schools where a majority of the parents want them to be taught in that language.


PPSMI: An advantage


Y.L. , Klang

I REFER to the opinions of Dr Wan Hashim of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia on PPSMI (“Do not belittle BahasaMalaysia ”—NST, Nov 23).

I believe Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim’s remarks (“It’s the language of knowledge”— NST, Nov 18) were not incorrect.

With all due respect to Wan Hashim’s position as a lecturer for 30 years, I, too, believe that English is the language of knowledge.

It’s true that every language needs time and room for improvement.

Bahasa Malaysia, too, can be a language of k n ow l e d g e .

But, think again. How many years will it take? The task is not impossible but consider that in today’s world, constant discoveries and inventions are rapid and would be first and foremost, explained in English.

As a science-stream student, I can assure you that it is no easy task looking for information in BM. We are limited to textbooks and reference books, and can almost never do cross-reference on the Internet, unless we translate what we are looking for into English.

It is possible, of course, to learn in BM but it takes a lot more effort on the student’s part. Is it any surprise that Malaysia isn’t exactly the most popular destination for students seeking tertiary education? When students pursue their master’s and PhDs overseas, they have to convert to using English for Science and Mathematics.

In today’s competitive world, who wouldn’t want an advantage?


PPSMI: Allow schools the English option


DATIN NOOR AZIMAH ABDUL RAHIM for Parent Action Group for Education

IN his blog, the prime minister has rejected the idea of a single-stream school system because the people are not ready for it.

But are the people ready or do they accept the abolition of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) in national schools?

A survey by Parent Action Group for Education (Page) last year showed that 95 per cent of parents wanted PPSMI to be continued.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his blog, polled 84 per cent against the decision to abolish PPSMI.

Even the Education Ministry's telephone survey showed more than 90 per cent of callers wanted it to go on.

Recently, parents from seven schools in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya returned a majority of 94 per cent and 98 per cent respectively to continue with PPSMI.

We thank the prime minister for respecting the spirit of the Education Act 1996, which calls for children to be educated according to the wishes of their parents.

We hope he will honour their wishes by giving our national schools the option to choose or reject PPSMI.

Page appeals to the education minister to allow that option and let parents make known their wishes through a meeting of their parent-teacher associations.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PPSMI: It's the language of knowledge


I REFER to the letter "PPSMI: Ministry must stick by decision" (NST, Nov 13) from Sa'ari Hasan of Ayer Keroh, Malacca.

The teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) was never about learning English through science and math but about learning the knowledge of science and math through English.

Does the writer not understand by his own admission that in the early period of the Abbasid dynasty both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to gather and translate all the knowledge of the world then into Arabic? And it was 75 years later before they achieved greatness in the philosophical and scientific fields. The Europeans mastered Arabic and came to Arab lands to seek knowledge. And likewise, most of the knowledge in Arabic was translated into Latin, English and French before the Renaissance.

We cannot depend on the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to translate even a tenth of one percent of all the current knowledge in the world into Bahasa Malaysia. They even failed to translate our foreign technical assembly-line manuals into Bahasa. The DBP has failed us in the industrial era. And they failed us again in the information era when they were unable to produce a practical online kamus for our children to use.

The language of knowledge in mathematics and science today is, first and foremost, English, followed by Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, etc, but not Bahasa Malaysia. To emulate scholars of the Abbasid dynasty and the Europeans prior to Renaissance, we have to master at least one of the above languages to gain access to this knowledge. And as knowledge grows very much faster now than in the old days, we cannot depend on translators but instead seek knowledge from its primary source ourselves.

The decision to abolish PPSMI is akin to asking us not to don Western attire but to keep using our sarong for daily activities to maintain our Malay identity, hoping one day it will become a universal dress code for the world.

The survival of a nation is dependent not on its language but by the knowledge held by its people. Why was "The House of Wisdom" in Baghdad, created a thousand years ago, so easily destroyed together with its people and entire nation in just a few years? Let us learn from this and seek knowledge even in the language of our "enemies". It appears that the "small acorn" may have been a "bad seed" after all.

Incidentally, the PAGE survey was conducted throughout the country via the parent-teacher associations of schools. Parents who were supportive of PPSMI not only came from the urban areas but also suburban and rural, including Keningau, Penampang and Tawau (Sabah), Long Lama (Sarawak), Kodiang (Kedah), Bukit Baru (Malacca), Tampin (Negri Sembilan), Beserah, Kuala Lipis and Jengka (Pahang), Kuala Kangsar (Perak), Bukit Keteri (Perlis), Bukit Mertajam (Penang), Tampoi (Johor), Jeli and Pengkalan Chepa (Kelantan).

PAGE is only asking for options for parents to decide what they feel is best for their children. Those who reject PPSMI do so at their own peril.

PAGE Chairperson


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PAGE Response to NST Letter to Editor

28 October 2009

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to explain our cause and surveys conducted at the respective schools (Education: That PPSMI survey is not good enough 2009/10/27).

The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister on behalf of schools that desire to be given the option to maintain the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) and a proposal for these schools to be re-categorised as SK/SMK (SMI).

The Prime Minister had said on 13 July 2009 that the government is open-minded about the proposal for some schools to be allowed to continue with PPSMI because the government respects the voice of the people. It was also in line with the government call for People First, Performance Now. Parents are people and many schools have performed with PPSMI.

Since the decision to abolish PPSMI was made on 8 July 2009 and in spite of the offer from the Minister of Education on 9 August 2009 for PTAs to send its memorandum to him, principals have been instructed to prohibit PTAs to convene EGMs to discuss this issue, which we see as an injustice to parents as well as teachers.

The Education Act 1996 allows “parents and teachers to exchange ideas on educational matters”. The Education Act further “requires the government to take into consideration the wishes of parents in wanting to educate their children as long as its expenditure involved is not excessive”. It goes on to say that the “primary objective of education is to gain knowledge having to keep abreast with the effects of the fast-paced development of science, technology and information”.

Had the PTAs been allowed to convene EGMs, the voting process would have been more accurate and reliable, and more schools would have successfully carried out their EGMs without any dissention from any party.

Consequently, parents of these seven schools either conducted voting on this matter via distributing voting slips through the students for their parents or parents were given voting slips as they came to pick their children from school.

We, too, would like more schools to convene EGMs but PTAs have now become afraid of its consequences. We have written several times to meet with the Minister of Education and seek his wisdom but no avail. We wish to assure that our actions were not hurried but instead thought through thoroughly.

In addition, the Federal Constitution of Malaysia states that “the national language shall be the Malay language provided that no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using, teaching or learning, any other language”. With regards to PPSMI, the national language, Malay, we stress yet again, not only remains the prime medium of instruction in national schools but also continues to maintain a majority number of subject hours at primary level (59%) and secondary level (53%) including the science stream.

PPSMI is not a question of language but the gaining of knowledge in science and mathematics in its ‘lingua franca’ which is English. Unfortunately, we cannot yet compare ourselves to France, Germany and Japan as they are the creators of technology from a hundred years ago and we are but merely consequential users and assemblers of it. We are also a young and small population lacking the expertise to translate specialized scientific and mathematical terms.

We are now no more in the industrial age but instead in the era of information and technology where vast knowledge (99%) in science and mathematics is found in English on the internet.

The future generation cannot just rely on only Malay, Mandarin or Tamil in this global day and age. We need to equip ourselves with more than just that, much more.

Lastly, parents look forward to the day when education is no more politicised.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SK Assunta 1&2 re-instated as feeder schools to SMK Assunta

Parents of SK Assunta 1 and 2 were shocked when offer letters to register their year 6 daughters into SMK Assunta were not to be. Only 43 of 148 of SK1 and 17 of 139 of SK2 girls were offered into SMK Assunta, what was traditionally over the last 51 years, a 100% automatic transfer.

The Selangor education department denied knowledge and urged parents to enquire with the district education office. Reasons provided were found to be unacceptable causing the parents to stage a protest outside the school on Monday.

NTV7 aired the protest followed by reports in NST and vernacular dailies today. Within 12 hours of airing, the district education office had re-instated feeder school status to SK1 and 2 and announced that new letters of offer would be sent out immediately.

Recently, parents of SK1 and 2 had convened separate EGMs to take a vote on PPSMI. A resounding 96% wanted PPSMI to be retained.

Parents should exercise their rights. Syabas, Assunta!


Friday, November 6, 2009

PAGE appeals to education minister

The Edge Financial Daily
Friday, 06 November 2009 00:18

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of parents calling themselves the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) has appealed to the education minister to give national schools the option of maintaining the teaching of science and maths in English (PPSMI).

In a statement yesterday, PAGE chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said a PAGE survey conducted in 2008 among parents throughout Malaysia showed 95% support for PPSMI to be continued.

“Tun Mahathir in his blog polled 84% against the government decision to abolish PPSMI. Even the ministry of education’s own telephone hotline survey showed over 90% of callers wanted PPSMI to be continued,” she said.

Noor Azimah said recently parents from seven schools in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, which were able to do surveys and EGMs, returned a majority of 94% to 98% of parents wanting PPSMI.

She said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his blog, had explicitly rejected the idea of the single stream school because the rakyat was not ready for it. Noor Azimah questioned if the rakyat was ready or accepted the abolition of PPSMI in national schools.

“We sincerely thank our Prime Minister for respecting the spirit of the Education Act 1996 which calls for children to be educated according to the wishes of their parents.

“We hope our minister of education is able to emulate our honourable Prime Minister in respecting and honouring the wishes of parents by giving our national schools the option to choose or reject PPSMI. Parents wait for the education minister’s decision to appreciate 1Malaysia, People First,” she said.

Noor Azimah called on the ministry to let parents voice their wishes through parent-teacher association EGMs or AGMs. “Then we, the rakyat, will truly appreciate our prime minister’s call for 1Malaysia, People First,” she added.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Support PPSMI / SK/SMK(SMI): Respond to PM by Friday

Dear Parents and Children Who Support PPSMI,

Our Prime Minister who champions 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now, has explicitly put aside the idea of a single stream school because the rakyat is not ready for it.

He also acknowledges that the education system for Malaysia is politicised.

He wrote, "Over the years and at almost in every instance, the issue of the ideal education system for Malaysia is politicised. As the Prime Minister for all Malaysians, I view that all of us must find equilibrium. Let us all be reminded that at the end of the day, the crux of the issue is ensuring that our future generations, our future leaders, are able to obtain the best education system. We must make that leap into a knowledge- and innovation-based economy."

He is also seeking response/discussion on his blog on the issue of education.He will be chairing a Special Cabinet Meeting on Friday, so please respond to his blog (link below).

Remember, your first sentence is the most important sentence. Start positively with what you want:

1 SK/SMK(SMI) Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris; OR
2 Continue PPSMI in our school.

Do not forget to ask each and every child to respond too. We must respond before Friday. Let him hear the voice of the rakyat on this.
Please forward this email to as many pro-PPSMI parents as possible.

Best Regards
PAGE Malaysia

Najib blog:


Monday, November 2, 2009

96% of Parents Want SK/SMK (SMI)

On Saturday, 31 October 2009, SK Assunta 1, Petaling Jaya, conducted an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to vote on SK/SMK (SMI). An astounding 96.3% of the parents who attended wanted to maintain PPSMI in their school.

Earlier, SMK St Xavier's Institution, Penang, convened its EGM and an astonishing 94% of parents want PPSMI to remain.

What is your school doing about it? Time is ticking fast.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

PAGE serah Memo kepada Perdana Menteri

PAGE telah menyerahkan sepucuk Memorandum kepada Perdana Menteri melalui Pejabat Perdana Menteri untuk memohon supaya diberi opsyen secara rasmi bagi mengekalkan sains dan matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris (SMI) di sekolah kebangsaan dan sekolah menengah kebangsaan.

Ia juga mencadangkan supaya diperkenalkan kategori baru iaitu SK/SMK(SMI) untuk sekolah-sekolah yang terbabit. Permohonan tersebut tidak bertentangan dengan Perlembagaan Persekutuan ataupun Akta Pendidikan 1996.

Memorandum tersebut juga telah dipanjangkan kepada seluruh Jemaah Menteri, beberapa orang Timbalan Menteri, Tun serta Tan Sri yang terpilih dan menyokong perjuangan PAGE.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

PPSMI The Answer..

The Star: Tuesday September 29, 2009

Country must bring back its talents, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The country must bring back its talents and provide incentives to keep them home if it plans to have an innovation-led economy where its primary driver is based on science, technology and innovation (STI), said the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.He said in order to achieve this, the country needs to develop high calibre STI human capital and make it a priority in mainstream economic planning.

“We need more scientists and researchers. We need more innovators.

“We need pioneers in science and technology,” he said in his speech at the Mahathir Science Award 2008 and 2009 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) last night.He said the country must identify reasons for its inability to nurture a bigger number of science professionals and if it is a brain drain, it must find ways of reversing it.

Present during the award presentation were his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili and Academy of Sciences Malaysia president Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron.

The Mahathir Science Award 2008 awarded by Academy of Sciences Malaysia, was bestowed on Prof Dr Gurdev Singh Khush for his contribution to tropical agriculture in developing several new rice varieties which helped in reducing global hunger.

The Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) was conferred the Mahathir Science Award 2009, in the category of Tropical Natural Resources for its role in the development of the rubberwood furniture industry in Malaysia and globally.

A simple solution is to maintain PPSMI. Incidentally, Academy of Sciences Malaysia is a staunch supporter of PPSMI. Along with PAGE, we created more than a ripple at last year's roundtable. Yet politics rules, the end of the day, and what secures the votes!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

History repeats itself..

Quoted from Challenging Times
(Pelanduk Publications 2007)

TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN wrote in 1984:

"I realised there were rumblings in the party for a change in leadership in my time. The issue was over the use of the Malay language to replace English at the government, parliamentary and university levels.

My objection was whether it was prudent to replace English in high places of learning such as universities where we must continue to employ English as the main medium of instruction.

The Malay language had not had a good start and not been given time to develop as yet, and no books were available in Malay on science and technology and other spheres of high education.

The Malay language was not advanced enough to take over from English to provide the right type of education for the progressive people.

The main aim in entering the university was to get the best education possible. Half education is no education at all. This young newly-born nation of ours depends so much on good leadership and this can only come with good education.

Some of the students who did not have basic English education were opposed to the education policy which I advocated.

The University of Malaya, the Mara College and the Malay Language Institute held hostile demonstrations against me.

The Ministers who wanted to ride on the wave of popularity and see the last of me also joined them secretly. But I stood my ground because I felt Malaya must be served by well-educated and dedicated leaders or else the future would be bleak."

It looks like history has repeated itself, that times haven't changed and many years on, we have instead regressed. Tunku would have been saddened by this decision to revert.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

PAGE seeks clarification on EGM status

On 8 September 2009, PAGE handed a request to Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Education, when he visited SK Bukit Damansara, for clarification on contradictory remarks made in the media about the convening of EGMs by PTAs to discuss PPSMI, by the DPM and Ministry of Education officials.

An extract: "Memandangkan kemusykilan yang dihadapi oleh pihak PIBG, dan lanjutan kepada kenyataan awam yang dibuat oleh YAB Timbalan Perdana Menteri pada 10 Ogos 2009 yang lalu, PAGE ingin memohon kepada YAB Timbalan Perdana Menteri mengarah KPM/Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri untuk –

(1) membenarkan ibu bapa dan guru-guru menggunakan PIBG mereka masing-masing sebagai landasan untuk bertukar-tukar fikiran dan maklumat mengenai pelajaran, khususnya Opsyen SMI, selaras dengan peruntukan di bawah perenggan 5(1)(c) Peraturan Pendidikan (Persatuan Ibu Bapa-Guru) 1998; dan

(2) menasihat semua pentadbir sekolah supaya mengakui dan menerima hak PIBG di bawah Perlembagaan PIBG mereka masing-masing untuk mengadakan EGM di dalam premis sekolah bagi membolehkan mereka membincang dan mendapat pandangan majoriti ibu bapa atas Opsyen SMI, sejajar dengan kenyataan daripada YAB Perdana Menteri pada 13 Julai 2009."

Earlier, the Prime Minister had stated that consideration may be given to schools that want to retain PPSMI.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Whilst PAGE strategises..

PAGE appears to have quietened down although we have not. We are studying several avenues including:

1 Finalising our memorandum as requested by the Ministry of Education;
2 Reviewing laws pertaining to PTAs; and
3 Strategising our next move.

Please bear with us.

It is disheartening to note that since the decision to switch the medium of instruction was made on 8 July 2009, there has been a marked increase in the registration of children into private schools with an international curriculum as well as migrations particularly into Australia.

PAGE hopes that the Prime Minister is aware of the brain drain that the decision has caused and which Malaysia can ill-afford.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MoE Top Brass Invites PAGE, Schools

A landmark meeting was held yesterday. Present from the Ministry of Education was the top brass, PAGE (Chair & Deputy Chair) and PTAs from selected KL schools.

The Director-General said of EGMs, "let bygones be bygones" and let's move forward. Although the EGM should have been the platform for parents to speak up, due to the sensitivity of the subject in question, the Ministry has urged parents to hold parents' meetings instead to discuss the issue and will consider positively should there be a request to use the school premises for this purpose.

The Ministry will welcome all written outcomes and decisions arising from that parents' meeting.

More importantly, PAGE is again acknowledged by the Ministry of Education, for its contribution towards feedback on PPSMI and its desire to represent parents throughout the country who support the policy. It has been suggested that PAGE present a memorandum on the fourth option and category, that is, SK/SMK (SMI).

The PTA of SMK Seri Hartamas took the opportunity to hand its parents' mandate to the Minister's office.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Soft Landing

Dear Parents,

These are the implications on our children of the "soft landing" recommended by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Click on image for larger view.

For this reason, we, Parents, HAVE to pursue to be re-categorised as SK/SMK (SMI) - Science and Math in English to avoid this maze.

Gather together your neighbourhood schools to SEEK EXEMPTION from the decision to switch.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Science & Maths: Students can continue in English

Aug 9, 09 2:47pm
Students who began studying Mathematics and Science in English could continue to do so until they finished their secondary school education, said Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said that the issue was also raised by his Cabinet colleagues and he would like to allay the concerns expressed by parents.

"We discussed the matter," he was quoted by Bernama as telling told Malaysian journalists covering his five-day working visit to Perth which ended today.

Muhyiddin said that students who had started learning the two subjects in English would continue to be taught in English, and have the option and freedom of answering examination questions in either Bahasa Malaysia or English.

"They (the parents) should not be unduly worried," he said. "I want to allay the concern of parents. We are adopting a soft landing a chance to move slowly into the new system," he said.

Recently, the government had announced changes to the PPSMI policy where the teaching of Mathematics and Science would be reverted to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools, and Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools from 2012.

Barred PTA meet: 'I am sorry'

The PPSMI policy was implemented in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One and Lower Six students in 2003, under former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's administration.

On newspaper reports today that the education department had withdrawn permission for the SMK Sri Hartamas Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) to convene an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to voice their opposition over the reversal of the policy to use English as the medium of instruction for science and mathematics, Muhyiddin said the department officers should not have done as such.

"We are quite open. They (the department) should not overreact. I am sorry. I apologise. I think it is not fair (to withdraw the permission)," he said.

Muhyiddin hoped the department officers would not do such things in future.

He said by objecting to the reversal of the policy, it showed in a way, the success of the policy, although the government had to reverse it, taking into consideration the larger interests of students in the country.


Saturday, August 1, 2009


Watch the latest production by PAGE on PPSMI, featuring our current and past Ministers of Education with special appearances by Tun M and Einstein, also Samad Said, Pinocchio and Mr Katak under the coconut shell.

To view video, click image on left for Part 1/2 and image on right for Part 2/2 below.

Please leave your comments here or on YouTube and forward this to everyone you can think of !

Thank you.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

PTA ‘Leads The Way’ With EGM

25 July 2009

KUALA LUMPUR. Pursuant to the decision to abolish the policy of PPSMI,
concerned parents of Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Damansara (SKBD) sought a mandate from its Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to appeal to the Ministry of Education that SKBD be an exempted school to proceed with the current policy of the teaching of science and math in English (PPSMI).

The PTA of SKBD convened an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) today to pass the resolution as well as to propose to change the status of the school from Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) to Sekolah Kebangsaan (SMI) - Science and Math in English.

It was made clear to the parents that they were not going against a government decision but instead was seeking status quo. Each student entitled a parent to have one vote. The votes were tallied and it was found that a staggering 97% of parents wanted to be given the option of PPSMI to be maintained in the school.

This option of allowing parents, teachers and students to choose illustrates the democracy that this country strongly adheres to. A choice of education must at all times be upheld to assure voters that democracy allows the freedom to choose.

The resolution will now be sent to the Prime Minister for consideration.

Observers from other PTAs were also present.

This move followed a brainstorming session with several PTAs of top schools in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya that wanted PPSMI to be maintained in their schools. It is hoped that the schools wanting to maintain PPSMI will take the cue from here and do likewise.

The constitution of the PTA allows the committee to convene an EGM, with seven days’ notice, to discuss a specific matter concerning the welfare of students in their school. Should the committee refuse to do so, parents comprising 20% of the number of students, through a signature petition, may compel the PTA to convene an EGM within 21 days of a written request.

The PTA provides the platform for parents to voice out their opinions on student welfare and must provide such an avenue should the need arise. It is a responsibility entrusted to all PTAs by their respective State Education Departments.

NST Online - Give us the option, say parents


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rural - Urban Divides Narrows, says UNESCO

22 July 2009

With reference to the report in the NST on 21 July 2009 entitled 'Education success puts Malaysia 45th in UN index', PAGE wishes to congratulate the previous Ministers of Education for putting "Malaysia on par with several developed nations for its success in closing the educational gap between the urban and rural areas” as reported in the Education-For-All Global Monitoring Report 2009.

This statement strongly supports the fact that the government policy of the teaching and learning of science and math in English (PPSMI), which was implemented in 2003, has not caused any detrimental effect to the educational standards of the rural students as claimed by the opponents of the policy.

From the start, PAGE has always determinedly upheld the rights of all students both rural and urban. However, we faced fierce and emotional opposition from the language extremists who managed to persuade our current Minister of Education to reverse the policy two steps backwards, not only in primary schools but also in secondary schools as well. This is completely contradictory to the previous Minister of Education's assertion that whatever decision made would affect students entering Year One only, so as not to disrupt and confuse the rest.

As evidenced by the Education-For-All Global Monitoring Report 2009, our students have obviously not been disadvantaged due to PPSMI. Hence PAGE again calls upon the present Education Minister to allow national schools to decide for themselves the medium of instruction for the teaching and learning of science and math.

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE)


Monday, July 20, 2009

From PAGE at Stadium Bukit Jalil

Why did 80,000 Malaysians cheer and support a foreign team that gives them "nothing" back except the temporary excitement and joy of watching ?
Because no Malaysian team can! Malaysia tak boleh?

So if even in play and fun we, Malaysians can accept a foreign element, why can’t it be in EDUCATION which is so much more important to our children’s future?

Why is it so difficult to accept that if Bahasa Melayu cannot give a future in the job market, then PPSMI is the way to go?

Why can’t the nationalists scream and swear at the Manchester United fans since they are destroying the Malay culture with the ‘red horns’ on their heads whilst parents are just trying to put a decent square mortarboard on our children's heads?

PAGE meets PTAs

Saturday 18 July 2009

The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) met with several key PTA Chairmen or their representatives today at a closed-door session to brainstorm its next course of action.

Earlier, the Prime Minister had expressly stated that due consideration may be given to schools that desire to maintain the teaching of science and math in English (SMI) in their schools, either primary or secondary.

All schools that want to do so are advised to urge its PTA to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to agree to maintain the policy and to convert the status of the school from Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) or Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) to SK(SMI) or SMK(SMI). Failing that, parents are to initiate a signature drive to garner support for the cause indicating the name of the school, the name of the parent and the age of the child.

Meanwhile, PAGE urges the Ministry of Education to conduct its own studies as to which schools have benefited from the policy and which desire to maintain it.

Parents and stakeholders are also strongly urged to write to the Malay press (Berita Harian , Utusan Malaysia) seeking for the fourth option, that is, to maintain the policy in your school.

For secondary schools that want to retain the English option, you are encouraged to work with your primary feeder schools, to do likewise, to ensure the continuity of learning and to maintain the standards already proudly upheld by your school.

It is most important that PAGE needs to know the names of the schools interested. We need the numbers to succeed. Let us help each other out.

Copies of all EGM resolutions or signatures will be sent to PAGE for compilation and which will be forwarded to the Prime Minister in due course.

PAGE may be contacted via email at or visit our blog at PAGE Malaysia.

Thank you.

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

From Our Neighbour

Give option to choose language, urge parents (asiaone education, Singapore)

Many Malaysians' first language is English, claim parents' group. -NST

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Schools should be given the option to teach Science and Mathematics in English or Bahasa Malaysia, or in one's mother tongue, Parents Action Group for Education (Page) said yesterday.

"There might be some schools which would want to continue teaching in English," said Page chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.

"I think there should be a choice. There are many Ma-laysians whose first language is English," she added.

Noor Azimah said maintaining English as an option would also be a compromise for the people in Sabah and Sarawak, who are not given the choice to learn in their mother tongue.

She said in the long run, the move to revert to teaching the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia would rob the younger generation of job opportunities.

Malaysian English Language Teaching Association president Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam said the policy of teaching of Maths and Science in English should at least be maintained in secondary schools.

"We could follow the formula practised in Middle Eastern countries such as Oman and Syria. Lessons should be taught in the mother tongue in primary schools and then we can move on to teach Science and Maths in English in secondary school."

He said although he was surprised at the decision, he understood that it was "done out of necessity".

"We were not prepared for the shift to English. We didn't have enough teachers who were trained."

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said more emphasis should be placed on strengthening the teaching and learning of English in schools.

"It is not only about understanding the language itself, but students must also be able to speak and write fluently."

Shamsuddin said without a proper grasp of the language, Malaysia would lose its competitive advantage vis-a-vis other countries.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general G. Rajasekaran said the latest decision could lead to confusion.

"The present policy is one way to make students learn English. Fresh graduates today lack good understanding of the language."

From Our Lawyer Friends Back Home

Bloggers in civilised debate
Tuesday, 10 March 2009 10:15am

©New Straits Times (Used by permission)

KUALA LUMPUR: Unlike Saturday's protest to force the Education Ministry to drop the use of English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics (PPSMI), others have chosen to use civil means to handle the matter.

The blogosphere is abuzz in healthy debate over the issue, with Malaysians taking varied stands and suggesting interesting solutions.

At the same time, bodies concerned with the issue, such as the Parent Action Group for Education (Page), are also reaching out to parents and collecting feedback.

Page chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said they have written to the parent-teacher associations of more than 3,000 schools in urban and rural areas. "We've got responses from 2,000 schools and it is interesting to note that 95 per cent of them support the PPSMI."

On Saturday's march, she felt that the protesters' action could be construed as a bid to hold the Education Ministry to ransom.
She said the anti-PPSMI group had been heard and their views duly considered at the roundtable meetings held by the ministry.

"The demonstration is therefore not only a waste of time but goes against the grain of what is Malay culture. The virtues of patience and tolerance are what Malays hold most dear."

She said Page supported the PPSMI as it could prepare the present generation of children for the challenging times ahead.

"We appeal to our nation's decision-makers to leave politics out of educational policies as that will put our children's future at risk."

In the blogosphere, Rasainthiran. M, posting his views on, felt that although the PPSMI issue may look like a Malay problem, it also affected Chinese and Tamil schools.

"Differences are many; but it cannot be denied that English is also the 'scientific' language of the modern world. The big question is how to implement it effectively," he said.

In another blog, dinomum said all parties (government, opposition or non-governmental organisations) must stop politicising the issue.

"I am a mother of two and have no qualms about supporting the continuance of teaching Science and Maths in English. Do you know that if we ever do a search on the Internet for simple Science or Maths terminology, the results are overwhelmingly in English rather than in Bahasa Malaysia?"

Dinomum also said as most other subjects were taught in Bahasa Malaysia, there was no way the national language would be compromised. admitted looking down on those who were impatient over PPSMI. "I honestly think those against PPSMI never felt the hardship of looking up English technical terms in thick heavy dictionaries in university. How it felt to translate every single word at least three times into Bahasa Malaysia, and creating a new sentence to understand a particular technical sentence."

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam suggested that the government offer the option of using the mother tongue or English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics in primary schools.

"This will give the people a choice and Bahasa Malaysia will strengthen its position and become a language of knowledge."

He also felt there should be a stop to street demonstrations as they did not provide a solution to the issue.

Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye urged the cabinet to allow the PPSMI policy to continue and find means to plug any loopholes in it.

The policy was important in helping the nation find its own place in the global economy, he added.

From Brunei With Love

Good English still target: Najib (Borneo Bulletin Weekend Online)

PUTRAJAYA (NST) - The national objective of enhancing the mastery of English among Malaysians remains unchanged and will "forever remain the same", Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday. "Only this time, the methods vary," the prime minister said, adding that the government's policy on English remained untouched.

He said English would continue to be given prominence for the future of the country and people, adding that the use of Bahasa Malaysia in teaching Science and Mathematics did not mean that English was unimportant.

"We still uphold the same objectives as we realise how important it is to have a good command of the (English) language," he told newsmen after chairing the Small and Medium Industries Development Corporation meeting at the Prime Minister's Department yesterday.

Najib said the government could reinforce the process of teaching and learning English by extending learning hours of the language, having better and more experienced teachers and enhancing existing infrastructure and facilities such as language laboratories.

Given time, Najib said, the decision would enable the government to require a pass in English in order to obtain the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certificate. "Like what (Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister) Tan Sri Muhyiddin (Yassin) has said, we might make (a pass in) English compulsory at the SPM level.

"All this will augment our commitment and sensitivity to the importance of having a good command of English so that we can compete in this era of globalisation," said Najib, who is also the finance minister.

Najib said English Literature would also be introduced as "this is better than teaching and learning the two subjects (Science and Mathematics) in English". He stressed that the goal was ultimately to enhance proficiency and mastery of English, something essential for the country and Malaysians in a globalised world.

On calls by the Parents Action Group for Education (Page) for schools to be given the option to teach the two subjects in English or Bahasa Malaysia, Najib said the suggestion would be referred to the Education Ministry. "Let them assess if it is viable for consideration," he said.

Friday, July 17, 2009

PAGE In The International Press

Malaysia drops English language teaching (Guardian, UK)

Government says education policy failing to create global speakers

Malaysia language riots

Ethnic Malays take opposition to English on to Kuala Lumpur streets in March. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Malaysia has decided to abandon a six-year experiment in using English in state schools to teach maths and ­science. The plan was intended to produce a new generation of global communicators, but government officials say it has stalled attainment and exposed a dearth of teachers able to deliver classes in English.

Education minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced last Wednesday that the English-medium education policy introduced across the country in 2003, known as PPSMI, would be phased out from 2012. He said that evidence gathered during a year-long assessment and public consultation had convinced the government that PPSMI wasn't working, and that the dominance of English in the curriculum risked undermining students' grasp of their first language.

"I wouldn't say it's a complete failure but it has not achieved the desired objectives that it was supposed to achieve," Muhyiddin told a press conference.

"The government is convinced that science and maths need to be taught in a language that will be easily understood by students, which is Bahasa Malay in national schools, Mandarin in Chinese schools and Tamil in Tamil schools."

But supporters of the policy ­expressed dismay, calling the decision a lost opportunity for Malaysia to emulate the economic success of English-speaking Singapore, held up as an example of how language skills can be a key to a connecting local workers and industries to the global economy.

The Parents Action Group for Education (Page), which had campaigned to maintain PPSMI, said the change would be unfair on many parents.

"There might be some schools which would want to continue teaching in English," Page chairman Azimah Abdul Rahim told the New Straits Times newspaper. "I think there should be a choice. There are many Malaysians whose first language is English."

The use of English for teaching in class has been a politically charged ­issue since it was decreed by Malaysia's autocratic prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, months before he stood down from office in 2003.

Since he was a staunch nationalist during his 22 years in power, Mahatir's move was a surprise acknowledgement that the post-independence policy he had championed of promoting Malay identity and downgrading the country's anglophone colonial past had been a mistake.

English-medium teaching was phased out of most schools by the 1970s. As a result the economy stagnated and Malaysia needed to develop a workforce skilled in the language of commerce and technology if it was to catch up with its south-east Asian competitors, he argued.

Many schools struggled from the start to deliver maths and science lessons in English, but the promise of future economic gains, and enthusiasm among parents, particularly in urban areas, for their children to acquire ­better English helped to maintain government commitment to the policy.

But in more recent years few have been able to ignore an emerging skills gap between urban and rural schools as education authorities outside the major cities failed to find enough staff able to teach in English. Meanwhile, government opponents have fanned nationalist fears by claiming that Malay culture was being undermined by PPSMI.

In 2008 the government responded to growing pressure by setting up a review of PPSMI, and an expert panel delivered its report to ministers in January, but a decision was stalled until after parliamentary elections in April.

In March police in Kuala Lumpur used teargas to disperse up to 5,000 ethnic Malays who took to the streets to voice their opposition to the policy.

In his statement, Muhyiddin denied that the government had bowed to political pressure, stressing instead that the decision had been taken on the basis of educational results alone.

He claimed these showed that the students who had been taught maths and science in ­English since they started primary school were now performing less well in those subjects in national exams than previous cohorts.

He said the percentage of students who achieved grade A to C for science had dropped by 2.5% in urban schools and 3% in rural schools. For maths, the results had fallen by around 4% in both urban and rural schools.

He added that only 8% of teachers were using English exclusively in classes while the use of Bahasa Malay was still common, particularly in rural areas, with on average just over half of PPSMI teaching time being delivered in English.

English-medium instruction will be phased out from schools from 2012 and the focus shifted to teaching ­English in separate language classes alongside improved Bahasa Malay teaching, Muhyiddin said.
He said that up to 14,000 English language teachers would be recruited by 2012, as well as specialist teaching assistants. English language teaching time will be increased by up to 30% a week, Muhyiddin added.

However, some critics were sceptical that qualified teaching staff can be found. "What has not occurred to the authorities is that the education system requires very competent teachers," Khoo Kay Kim, emeritus professor at the University of Malaya's history department, told the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, the still influential architect of PPSMI was quick to rally support for his policy. The octogenarian Dr Mahathir is using his popular blog to canvass opinion. "I am not surprised over the disappointment and even anger towards the government's decision ... Seems to me like the government is not listening to the voice of the people," he wrote.

Within hours of putting up his online poll, 40,000 people had ­responded with a resounding 84% opposed to the changes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For A Better Future

Dear Parents and those who hope for a better, more wholesome education for our future generation,

PAGE would appreciate it if, when in full support of PPSMI, you can kindly indicate what ages your children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren are. The names of their schools and the town you are currently residing would also prove helpful.

This would populate our database to map out the voices of the people.

For Our Children.

Call for Action NOW!

Tuesday July 14, 2009 - Star Online

Public can still give views

PETALING JAYA: The public can still have their views heard over the reversion of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English.

“The decision has been made, but the people can still speak up and are entitled to express their views,” said Education Ministry deputy director-general (General Education Operations) Datuk Noor Rezan Bapoo Hashim yesterday.

Noor Rezan said the decision was made after five round-table meetings and many discussions, but there would be a period of minor changes and adjustments.

“Anything can happen from now till 2012. The Education Minister has stipulated the decision is final, but in the context of saying that, you have to take into consideration the fine-tuning,” she said.

Parents, she said, could call the ministry’s hotline at 03-7723 7070 should they have any strong views or suggestions.

CALL NOW: +603-7723 7070

Monday, July 13, 2009

PPSMI – Teaching and Learning Science and Mathematics in English


This was the catalyst that resulted in the birth of PAGE.

This policy which was implemented in 2003 underwent turbulence in 2008 shortly after the national elections as there were announcements from the Ministry of Education (MoE) that it would be abolished.

Every morning after 7.25 at SK Bukit Damansara, concerned parents mulled around deliberating this proposed change as they opined that the impact of abolishing a much lauded and needed policy would be catastrophic. This not just coming from parents who have big dreams for their children but also from the professionals who witness not just a lack of ability and capability to correspond in English despite the numerous A's scored in examinations, but a sad number of truly successful professionals in the fields of sciences and mathematics as the system of education did not enable them to become thinkers.

Pursuant to the then Minister of Education’s call on parents for feedback on PPSMI, PAGE was set up by parents of SK Bukit Damansara after its PIBG held an EGM on 13 September 2008 and had obtained mandate to appeal to the MoE to maintain with the current policy of PPSMI and, should the policy be abolished, to request that it be an exempted school, still continuing with PPSMI.

Participating Schools

PAGE then a meeting held on 20 September 2008 with parents from 60 schools around Klang Valley and Selangor. They had given their consensus to voice their feedback to maintain the said policy and also to be a participating school that will be allowed to continue with PPSMI.

13 schools from the Rawang area have also requested to be participating schools that will be allowed to continue with PPSMI.

Round Table Discussions by the Ministry of Education

Upon receiving feedback by the then Minister of Education, PAGE was invited by the MoE to present its findings backed by facts at the 4th Round Table Discussion on 21 October 2008. The half hour presentation tabulated the reasons that Science and Mathematics ought to be taught in English to our children.

The presentation also addressed assertions cast by opponents of the policy.

PAGE was again invited for the 5th Round Table Discussion for input of robust discussion on the policy on 16 December 2008.

Numerous press conferences, television interviews and appearances and also press releases and letters were executed from the time of its formation to current.

With the new appointment of YB Deputy Prime Minister as the new Minister of Education, PAGE had written several times to request for audience. That was never fulfilled due to the absence of response on the part of the Minister of Education.

PPSMI Abolished

The Minister of Education’s announcement on 8 July 2009 that PPSMI will be abolished was a very big blow not only for PAGE and parents nationwide who did not have the opportunity to be represented through PAGE, but also the children.

Outraged as parents may be as that tantamount to regressing the journey of our children’s education, it is a decision that all must live with for the moment.

Moving Forward – Exemption

Thus comes the inevitable, seeking an exemption for participating schools to continue, based on will and capability, with PPSMI.

PAGE holds strongly the notion that children who have potential to excel must NOT in any way be impeded by those who may need a bit more coaching.

PAGE needs the numbers for this to present to the MoE. The target is that by August 2009, data can be presented for due consideration.

To this, please make that choice as parents and provide PAGE with the feedback it needs.

For Our Children.